Immigration News

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Announces Leon Rodriguez as New Director

Confirmed by the Senate and sworn in on July 9, 2014, Mr. Rodriguez Becomes the fourth Director of the world’s largest Immigration Service. Mr. Rodriguez, born in Brooklyn and raised in Miami, comes to USCIS with a broad legal background and he will lead the nearly 18,000 employee agency, which is charged with administering the nation’s immigration and naturalization system.

Mr. Rodriguez had no experience working in the immigration field. While Mr. Rodriguez’s resume in law and civil service is impressive; it is unclear what specifically qualifies him to direct the United States’ immigration agency. Trained as a lawyer, Mr. Rodriguez has extensive experience working in the public sector for the U.S. Department of Justice and the Department of Health and Human Services. He has also worked in private practice in Washington, D.C.

He previously served as the director of the Office for Civil Rights at the Department of Health and Human Services, a position he held from 2011 to 2014. From 2010 to 2011, he served as chief of staff and deputy assistant attorney general for civil rights at the Department of Justice (DOJ). Previously, Mr. Rodriguez was county attorney for Montgomery County, Maryland from 2007 to 2010. He was a principal at Ober, Kaler, Grimes & Shriver in Washington, D.C. from 2001 to 2007. He served in the United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Pennsylvania from 1997 to 2001, first as chief of the White Collar Crimes Section from 1998 to 1999 and then as first assistant U.S. Attorney until his departure. Before joining the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Mr. Rodriguez was a trial attorney in the Civil Rights Division at DOJ from 1994 to 1997 and a senior assistant district attorney at […]

Why are so Many Children Fleeing Central America

On July 8, 2014, President Obama asked Congress for $3.7 billion dollars in emergency funding in an effort to address the overwhelming number of young, unaccompanied children arriving at the United States’ Southern border with Mexico.

These young children, numbering in the tens of thousands, are coming from Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Mexico, and are primarily fleeing drug cartels, transnational criminal organizations (TCOs), endemic poverty and domestic violence.  Why now and why so many?  And what can United States immigration authorities do about it?  These are some of the difficult and complex questions which Congress, President Obama and Department of Homeland Security officials are trying to answer.

So far this fiscal year (October 1, 2013 – present), U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) have detained over 50,000 unaccompanied minors at the border.  Of these, CBP says 29% of the children came from Guatemala, 24% of the children fled Honduras, 23% from Mexico, and 22% from El Salvador.  In other words, 97% of the unaccompanied children stopped at the border were from these four countries.

When children – or anyone else for that matter – arrives at the border and expresses a fear of returning to their home country, both U.S. and international law requires that they be screened to determine if they qualify for protection as refugees.  The primary definition of refugee comes from the 1951 Geneva Convention on the Status of Refugees and the 1967 Protocol.  According to U.S. law, a refugee is basically any person who is outside his/her home country and was either persecuted in the past or has a well founded fear of persecution in the future, on account of race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group.

In addition […]